The Good Luck Charm Page 56

“I can be there in half an hour. Is that okay?”

“Half an hour is perfect. I’m sure there’s some workplace accident report I need to fill out in the meantime.”

“I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

I end the call and sigh. As if I need any more complications in my life. The Ethan situation is more than enough all on its own. Now I find out I might have another sister. Not might, I do have another sister. And I like her. Except right now I feel nothing but jealousy. My father left us all to start a new family. From Emery’s accounts, he’s a fantastic dad and completely head over heels in love with her mother.

I rub my temples and hop down off the hospital bed. “I need some air.”

“I’ll walk you out, then.”

I’m too exhausted to argue that I’m fine and don’t need a babysitter. I could use a nap more than anything else, but fresh air will have to do. We stop at the hospital cafeteria for a coffee before he escorts me to the front entrance. I guess he’s serious about walking me out of the building.

As I’m approaching the doors, I hear my name. I freeze, then turn as my father pushes up out of a chair and smooths his hands down his thighs. He looks nervous and uncomfortable. I should hope so.

He takes a few halting steps toward me, stopping about four feet away. “Are you okay?” He turns to Dr. Lovely. “Is Delilah okay?”

“She’s cleared to leave but not to drive.”

“I could give you a ride home. We could talk.”

I bark out a disbelieving laugh. “You’re about twenty years too late for father-daughter bonding, Darryl. Besides, Carmen is coming to get me.”

“Carmen still lives here?”

I hate that this is a question he legitimately doesn’t have an answer to. “Where’s Emery?”

“I sent her home with her mother. She’s very … confused.”

“Well, that makes two of us.”

“It would be good if we could talk, somewhere private. Emery isn’t at fault for any of this.” He gestures between us.

I realize Dr. Lovely is still standing beside me, bearing witness to this family drama. I turn to him. “It’s fine. I’m fine. You have real patients with real emergencies.”

“I have a private lounge you can use if you’d like to have a conversation,” he says, not to me, but to my father.

“That would be great,” my father replies.

Again, I don’t argue. I’m too shell-shocked, so I follow along dumbly to the lounge, usually reserved for families of patients in critical surgery.

“I’ll check on you in a bit,” Dr. Lovely says before he closes the door.

“You look so much like your mother,” my father says once we’re alone.

I give him a disbelieving look. “Really? That’s your leadin? That I look like the woman you abandoned along with your six kids, so you could what? Have a do-over? Start a new family that was less inconvenient than the one you had? It’s been twenty years. Where the hell were you when I was growing up?”

He blows out a breath and drops his head, hands clasped in front of him. “It was complicated, Delilah.”

“That’s a cop-out. Why did you bother to wait for me if you’re just going to tiptoe around answers? Or is it because of Emery? Jesus. Did she even know you had a whole separate family?”

“She knew I had children from another marriage.”

“Does she know you haven’t seen any of us in the last twenty years since you abandoned us?”

He lifts his hands, contrite. “I understand why you’re angry.”

“Do you? Do you really understand? I don’t think you do. One day you were part of my life and then you disappeared.” I snap my fingers. “And I always wondered, why weren’t we good enough? What did we do that was so bad that you erased your existence from our lives?”

“I tried to contact you.”

“Bullshit,” I spit.

“I know this is a shock, Delilah, but please, let me at least explain my side. I’m sure you have your mother’s, but you’re missing mine. I never wanted it to be this way. I didn’t want to lose contact with my kids. It was devastating. Things with your mother and me were never easy. We were married before we were even out of high school. We were kids with ideas of what life would be like, and she wasn’t even eighteen when your oldest brother was born.

“We struggled so much, our parents weren’t much help, and it was … day-to-day for such a long time. Just when it felt like things were starting to balance out, your mother got pregnant again. Babies became Band-Aids for us. Every time something went wrong, or we’d have a disagreement, we decided another baby was the answer. I loved her and I wanted her to be happy, and babies made her happy.”

“Did they make you happy? Was that what you wanted?”

“I wanted a family, and I loved all of you. After you I thought maybe it was time to stop. We pretty much had our own hockey team.” He laughs a little at that but quickly sobers when I don’t join in. “Six was a lot of mouths to feed on one salary. I was working two jobs and trying to finish college so I could be a better provider. When I scheduled a vasectomy, your mother was upset.”

“So you left?”

“No. Of course not. But that’s when things started to unravel. I don’t want to demonize your mother. I don’t think that’s helpful, and I’m not sure exactly what she told you, but she was the one who kicked me out. I applied for custody but was denied because I had left the home. Things worked differently back then. She made it impossible for me to see any of you, and she stonewalled any of my attempts to contact you and your brothers and sister. I should’ve tried harder—I know that. But I met Renee and she was just”—he sighs—“I had a chance to start over, so I took it.”

“Does she know about all of us?”

He nods and looks at his hands. “She does. She suggested I reach out, and I tried, many times, but by then your brothers had moved out, and your mother threatened a restraining order if I tried to see you and Carmen. I didn’t want to make your lives more difficult, so I stayed away.”

“Do you have any idea how horrible it was to grow up thinking I was unwanted and unloved by one of the two people who were supposed to love me unconditionally?”

“I can imagine—”

I cut him off. “No you can’t. Not even a little bit. You can’t imagine what it was like growing up in a house so full of chaos that I was forgotten about most of the time.”

He stiffens, and his fingers curl around the arms of his chair. He seems legitimately shocked and saddened by this revelation. “I’m very sorry, Delilah.”

“I’m not sure I can accept your apology. That damage was done a long time ago. It’s rooted in who I am, and it’s impacted all of my relationships. I don’t know how to forgive that.” As I watch my words sink in, causing fresh pain I share, I realize the truth in what I’ve just said. For the first time I see with real clarity why Ethan’s leaving was so devastating, and why I’ve been so tentative and reluctant to fully embrace this second chance with him—because I’m convinced that no matter what, I’ll lose him again. Deep down I fear his love for me has an expiration date attached to it, like I believed my father’s did.

Source: www_Novel22_Net

Prev Next